Political parties in Myanmar have signed a code of conduct for peaceful elections and a fair election campaign. Switzerland served as the mediator between the parties.
As the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) announced on Friday evening, most of the country’s 97 political parties – including ethnic parties and the ruling National League for Democracy – signed the code. Myanmar’s parliamentary elections are scheduled for November.
As requested by the parties and the election commission, Switzerland has spent the past eight months helping to facilitate negotiations on a revised code of conduct. This contains rules for peaceful elections and free competition to which parties and election candidates voluntarily commit themselves.
In addition, the code contains principles for protection against attacks on candidates’ private lives and against hate speech, including on social media. Further provisions concern the misuse of state resources or religion for election campaign purposes.
“Since the end of military rule in 2011, Switzerland has been supporting peace negotiations between the various ethnic groups, the government and the military and has been encouraging the state’s efforts towards democracy,” wrote the FDFA in a statement. “This year’s elections, the third since 2011, represent a central stage in this transition. With around 30 million voters and 97 political parties, the elections pose a major political and logistical challenge for the country.”
By signing the code of conduct, the parties reaffirm their will to conduct a fair and non-violent election campaign. Friday’s ceremony in Yangon took place in the presence the parties, the chairman of the election commission, Switzerland as facilitator and members of the international community.
Switzerland will also support the implementation of the code, having already facilitated the negotiations on a code of conduct between the parties in 2015.